Cape Town - A legal expert says there has a been a “blurring of the lines between party and state” in co-opting businesses to support the ANC after President Jacob Zuma said business people backing his party would prosper.
Advocate Paul Hoffman said on Monday that this kind of arrangement was “another form of corruption”.
He was commenting after Zuma – speaking at the ANC’s anniversary gala dinner in Durban on Friday – said business people who supported the ruling party would see their fortunes multiply.
“We are not forcing people… you can support who you support and be a supporter, but if you go beyond that and become a member… if you are a businessman, your business will multiply,” Zuma was quoted as saying by the Sunday Times.
“Everything you touch will multiply,” he told business tycoons who paid top dollar to attend the dinner.
“I have always said that a wise businessman will support the ANC because supporting the ANC means you’re investing very well in your business,” Zuma said.
Hoffman said: “This is no way to run a country… it is unethical and unsustainable.” He said Zuma was offering businesses a “get-rich-quick kind of arrangement”.
The DA called on Zuma to retract his statement.
The party’s parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, said on Monday that Zuma’s remarks implied that by backing the ANC, businesses would receive financial reward, which would involve the leveraging of state resources.
“With high levels of corruption already costing the economy billions of rand, hurting the poor and vulnerable the hardest, such a comment is deeply irresponsible,” she said.
The IFP also condemned Zuma’s comments, saying he was “promoting corruption by urging businesses to support the ANC for personal gain”.
It was “shameful for the president of South Africa to make such a statement, which amounts to encouraging corruption, at a time when South Africa is plagued by this curse”, IFP deputy spokesman Joshua Mazibuko said.
“Simply put, the president was telling business people that the only way in which they could guarantee business opportunities and prosperity in this country is by joining the ANC. It is clear that the ANC is no longer about serving the country. Instead, all unscrupulous business people… will now definitely rush to swell the ranks of the ANC.”
Responding to the DA’s call for Zuma to retract his comments, ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said: “Lindiwe must just have a life… that’s all we have to say.”
In a statement issued later, he said Mazibuko didn’t understand African custom.
“It is our tradition as Africans that if someone gives you something, in return you thank him/her and wish them prosperity and abundance.”
He said the ANC was also the only party with business-friendly policies and if businesses wanted to prosper, they had to support the party.
Mazibuko said she would submit parliamentary questions to Zuma to seek clarity on whether his remarks reflected government policy and, if not, whether he would issue a formal retraction.
“This is further evidence of how President Zuma fundamentally confuses the role of the state and party, and how the government continues to misuse public money, which should be spent on the poor,” she said.
“With corruption continuing to eat away at South Africans’ confidence in the ability of the government to deliver, President Zuma should spend more time implementing measures to fight corruption, instead of making dangerous and irresponsible comments that have the potential to undermine our constitutional democracy.”